I'm an avid birder and nature photographer wishing to share some of my sightings & images taken while out in the "wilds" of Cape Ann and surrounding New England countryside. More images can be found on my web site at New England Birds Plus Enjoy, Phil Brown

"Click" on any image below for a larger version....

Comments & Question - nebirdsplus@gmail.com

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Monday, October 31, 2011


It was a very pleasant day along the coast in Massachusetts today, we suffered few of the tremendous problems folks in the western portion of the state are contending with. The snow has all but disappeared and the 50 degree mid day temps found lots of birders out and about. I headed for the Parker River NWR with hopes of seeing a Rough-legged Hawk that has been reported in the area for a few weeks now. A stop at the North Pool Overlook and there it was.

I had stopped along the road just south of the Overlook to take this image as the hawk flew over and while taking it I heard several Black-capped Chickadees sternly scolding something a few hundred feet behind me along the road. A bit of searching and poof... there's the culprit.

An adorable little Northern Saw-whet Owl!

All of my views were obstructed but damn... these owls are cute!
Though I don't think the Chickadees feel the same...

A brief video as it roosted along the road.

A stop further down the Refuge at Hellcat found a Clay-colored Sparrow in very poor light.

and Emerson Rocks at Lot #7 was once again full of shorebirds, this Hudsonian Godwit was most cooperative. 

Yet another great day in the field!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yellow-rumped Warblers

A stop at Salisbury Beach State Reservation this morning found a few dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers feeding along the road just out of the wind.

Bayberry, a favorite of these Warblers

The yellow rump - hence the name.

A late Rose-breasted Grosbeak was spending its time eating Cedar Berries when not being chased by the Northern Mockingbird that thought they were all his.

My Brother Dave who lives just off of Rte 1A in Beverly assisted with my Screech Owl addiction today, allowing me to place two boxes in his backyard. I've seen Screech Owls in the neighborhood and have high hopes for a nesting pair in these boxes next spring!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Red-tail & The Falconer - Oct. 29, 2011

This is year two of my nephew Pat's apprenticeship as a falconer. This years hawk is a young male Red-tail and much different from last years easy to get along with female though Pat and the hawk appear to have come to some sort of mutual understanding (the hawk no longer bites his hand every time he goes near it..:)

We were hoping to jump some ducks on the marsh this morning but nothing doing, the ducks were few and far between. This is Pat with the hawk on a painters pole to give it a better view of the many creeks that bisect the marsh.

The hawk tends to fly from the raised perch, heading for a nearby stand of trees.

Pat uses tidbits as bait to get the hawk to come back to his glove. Here's the hawk coming in.

and then with the reward for coming back.

Hoping for some action in one of the creeks.

It was a beautiful morning on the marsh with little wind and non of the impending snow.

After letting the hawk fly for the last time Pat brings him in to the lure which has a large portion of food on it, it's a magnet for a well trained hawk and Pat's done a great job with this years youngster.

As if asking... More please....:)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk - Hamilton, MA - Oct. 28, 2011

I went out this morning hoping for a Screech Owl or two roosting in the sun after last nights rain and snow, well that didn't happen, not an owl to be found but on my way to the bank I came across a large white bird flying over Rte 1A in Hamilton, MA. I quickly turned around and found a partially albino or leucistic Red-tailed hawk perched in a Pine Tree a fair distance from the road.

Quite a beautiful Hawk!

A brief video of it perched in another tree nearby.

Several more shots showing the yellow feet and mostly white wings.

Another showing several red tail feathers making this an adult and most likely the same Hawk I saw back on March 12, 2011 along the Hamilton / Ipswich line just a few miles from today's location.

A shot of it facing me.

and a few more as it flew towards me heading north along Rte 1A & Rock Maple Ave. in Hamilton

As I said this is the 2nd time this year I've come across this bird. The 1st was back on March 12 a few miles north of today's sighting on the Hamilton / Ipswich line. Here's a few images from that encounter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yellow-billed Cuckoo - Parker River NWR - Oct. 24, 2011

I had the great pleasure of stumbling on a small group of people that were watching this Yellow-billed Cuckoo as it rested and foraged along the edge of the North Pool on the Parker River NWR.

A brief video showing just how much work goes into eating a caterpillar which is a large part of the Cuckoos diet.

There's no mistaking how this bird acquired it's name. This is one of the brighter Cuckoos I've seen.

The Caterpillar loses it's bristles before the Cuckoo tosses it down the hatch.

Another bug the Cuckoo quickly found and ate.

and lastly a close up of the bill and that very yellow eye-ring.

Parker River NWR - Shorebirds ++ - Oct. 23, 2011

Seen prior to my visit to Plum Island, this Eastern Screech Owl has just started to use the hole in this tree to roost as the leaves come off the trees.

A visit to the Parker River NWR never disappoints and this past Sunday was no exception. The young Common Tern below was roosting at Sandy Point with a couple dozen Forester's Terns.

A young Bonaparte's Gull, one of several dozen that were roosting in the area,

The salt pans just before parking lot #3 held a few hundred American Wigeon and two drake Eurasian Wigeon with one seen below on the left.

The shoreline just north of Emerson Rocks, parking lot #7, is currently alive with shorebirds on a falling tide as they feed on all sorts of goodies just below the surface. Hudsonian Godwits, as seen in the next two images, are always a treat to see.

Sandy Point, the state park at the southern tip of the Parker River NWR,  also held a nice collection of shorebirds that were roosting, preening and feeding as the tide began to fall. A Red Knot in winter plumage roosting on one leg.

A Sanderling doing the same.

A Semipalmated Plover.

and a White-rumped Sandpiper.

Another White-rumped Sandpiper along the wrack line in very fresh and bright juvenile plumage.

I'm already looking forward to next weekends visit for my next shorebird fix before they head south, leaving the beaches to the Sanderling and Dunlin.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sparrow Identification - Chipping / Clay-colored - Oct. '11

The recent, very informative sparrow identification discussion on MassBird , Chipping Sparrow vs Clay-colored Sparrow,  led me to put together a few images of the two to illustrate the differences in the eye-ring that David Sibley pointed out in his post to MassBird on Oct. 20, 2011

Prominent white eye arcs, broken by the dark line through the eye on the Chipping Sparrow on the left

and the "open faced" look on the Clay-colored Sparrow from the lack of the eye arcs and dark eye line on the right.

"Click" on any image for a larger photo..

I've always had a hard time with Chipping Sparrows that are a bit paler than the norm but this field mark should help with that! Thanks very much for pointing it out David!

Here's both birds as seen in the field. Chipping Sparrow, Salisbury Beach SR - Oct. 17, 2011

Clay-colored Sparrow - Wardens, Parker River NWR - May 14, 2011

As other have stated, MassBird with all of the folks that continually contribute is a fabulous resource that I and thousands of others greatly enjoy and appreciate on a daily basis.